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So far David Bork has created 90 blog entries.

When You Can’t “Read The Room” As You Consult During Covid

Most of the important tools used in consulting with families in business are not carried in a briefcase. Certainly, there is much to be learned from taking classes about business,  attending forums about consulting, and spending time with mentors. Over the years I have observed, however, that the most successful consultants for families in business come into the craft with some degree of natural talent. Video conferencing is light years better than just voices over a phone line. Consulting for families in business has always been about finding ways to make things work.

Consulting In The Time Of Covid: Meeting Your New Clients

Meeting the family members and any other players is not by any means the first step of a new consulting opportunity. Most likely you have spent time researching and there have been phone and email exchanges well before it is time to shake hands and make eye contact. I have had to make some big adjustments in my consulting practice, as I am sure everyone has. I am sure it has been a challenge for both sides.

The Bowen Family Systems Theory—Learning It Then Using It

Here is what you need to know going in: you must learn it well enough to teach it. To be a credible facilitator and consultant, when you say you can help, you must know every detail of your plan. Using the Bowen Theory for family business issues is no different than showing someone how to work on a car, walking others through how to play a new game, or even demonstrating the current cool hip hop moves. You must know it well enough to teach it with conviction.

The Bowen Theory Was A Turning Point For Me

I have always enjoyed the mission of learning the “hows” and the “whys” of family dynamics, especially when it involves a family in business together, and that curiosity was what led me to the work of Dr. Murray Bowen.

Collaboration: Agreement On Methods And On What “Privacy” Means

After 20 years of being friends and being familiar with each other’s work, Dr. Jaffe and I were able to use our particular strengths to help solve some thorny issues, without stepping on each other’s toes or working at cross purposes. We shared information and we innovated together because we had agreed on our methods and we understood the enormity of the need for absolute confidentiality.

Stop The Family Argument By Deciding How To Order Dinner

Everyone has heard about arguments in Family Business.  Relatives in the business are all together to make key decisions. Two are deadlocked in a toe-to-toe shout-down with one saying, “I’m right!” and the other resolutely insisting “No, I’m right!” Perhaps yet another is trying to jump in with “Look at my idea!” The meeting agenda has dissolved into a process of Ready! Fire! Aim!

There is a tried and true way to end this, and here is an example. We are a group of five colleagues working together. We need to have dinner but would like to continue our work. One colleague asks the others, “What does everyone want to eat?” Instead of naming restaurants, they listened to all comments and agreed on the following:

  1. Must be suitable to continue our conversation over dinner, so that rules out a noisy place.
  2. Must be within 3 miles radius, so we don’t lose momentum in our progress.
  3. Must be able to seat five guests at 7 p.m., since that time suits everyone present.
  4. Must have selections on the menu that will satisfy one person who is mostly vegetarian.

Notice that there is not high “ownership” for any of the criteria.  After we do a quick survey of restaurants nearby, soon one or two stand out.

The operative word is ownership. So often in family business differences are grounded in whose idea is being discussed rather than what is the idea. In the Little Red Book of Family Business it says, “An Idea doesn’t care who has it.  It (the idea) has no opinion on the bearer thereof.” It is preferable to establish the criteria and then list the range of options that might be worthy of consideration. Each option is measured against the criteria, not against who proposed the idea. By eliminating the attachment to […]

Reduce Anxiety During This Crisis For Your Family Business

Your job managing the family business did not come with a crystal ball. But now, you are getting calls and emails from family members, employees, vendors, suppliers, city officials, the local press, and never-before-heard-from stakeholders about what is going to happen to the enterprise that supports so many. Let me give you a proven solution: appoint an Ombudsman.

The Bowen Theory Was A Turning Point For Me

I have always enjoyed the mission of learning the “hows” and the “whys” of family dynamics, especially when it involves a family in business together, and that curiosity was what led me to the work of Dr. Murray Bowen.

Boundaries: Who Does What?

There has been a lot in the news lately about “invading personal space,” and I really get why that is so important. Boundaries are a defining concept for every successful family business I’ve ever worked with, and it’s the second of my supporting pillars in my online course, Re-Imaging Relationships For Families In Business.  American poet Robert Frost noted that “good fences make good neighbors,” and I would add that good boundaries make good working relationships between family members.

In the nuclear family, usually parents and their children, or perhaps at some point just the siblings, there are relationships that have been developing since birth. Opinions about strengths and weaknesses have been forming for decades, and there are no secrets (usually) about escapades from anyone’s younger days. Normally by the time family members are working together as adults in a legacy business, they have already interacted with each other for decades within the intimacy of the family unit.

The family business must not become a metaphor for family.

Protocols must be different for work talk and family talk. The same is true for behaviors. If a bossy older sister has spent her life picking up projects abandoned by her younger brother, then she will continue to do this in the family business. This will result in the same resentment levels experienced by both siblings as this dynamic has occurred over the years. The family leader must know how to set the boundaries between sibling responsibilities,  and preferably with minimum risk to overall business progress. The leader must also know how to arbitrate when boundaries are disregarded. Perhaps that’s easier when a parent is running things, but when a sibling takes over as leader, he/she better be strong enough to insist on a) hands off someone else’s job and b) maybe job boundaries […]

Use Values-Based Leadership To Align The Family

As mentioned in the last blog, we all know that alignment starts with the family leader (presumably you!) In Lesson 2, Pillar 1 of my self-study course, Re-Imagining Relationships For Families In Business, you went through the exercise of writing down your own core values, and giving thought to your own code of ethics. Now you know the direction you want to lead family members who also participate in the legacy family business. Lesson 3 addresses how to align your family and how to deal with any members who are not eager to jump onto the same page as the others.

Something I know for sure: anything attempted without alignment is unlikely to be long-lasting. After 50+ years of working with families, I can say that this is a lesson I’ve seen learned in the hardest of ways. As the family leader, you might dread some parts of the exercises used to discover and distill your family members’ values. Still, you must all agree on the “how-to” before you can implement an agenda of growth and sustainability. I recommend a family alignment model called Values-Based Leadership.

What Is Values-Based Leadership?

Values-Based Leadership (VBL) is defined by The Financial Times as, “motivating employees by connecting organizational goals to employees’ personal values.” In Re-Imagining Relationships, I make these four key points:

• Values precede ethics, and ethics precede performance.
• Foundational values guide decision making.
• VBL is statistically proven to deliver excellent results over long periods of time.
• VBL can be the foundation of a corporate climate that delivers predictable and sustainable results.

If you and your family agree to operate under a Values-Based Leadership model, then your “core values represent the soul of the organization, and they are likely to remain steadfast in the face of changing market trends and fads.” (Pillar 1, Lesson 3.)
Now, on the […]

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.